Sunday, 3 December 2017

Rest Beside the Weary Road

Lettering by my friend @rach_forsyth

O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

Advent reminds us of where we are in the story: we’re not at its end yet; we’re still on the road.

Like Mary on the road to Bethlehem, we are plodding onwards, but we are heavy-laden and weary. Someone exciting is on the way, but from where we are right now, his coming can seem more distant than the stars. We are toiling. We are climbing. We are waiting. The way forward is arduous, perseverance is painful, and rewards seem few.

But the song of the angels is for those who are crushed beneath the weight of life’s hardnesses. It is those whose journeys feel unrelentingly long and inexpressibly frustrating and insurmountably steep that need to hear the glad and golden song of the angels:

A Saviour is born to you who will be for all the people; he is Christ the Lord.

The song of the angels is also for those who are crushed beneath their own expectations. It is for  those who are constantly striving for an unattainable perfection, whose Decembers are heavy with lists of things they must do and must do well, who have the law crying, “run!” and “do better!” and who feel compelled to- without the energy and capacity to do so.  It is they that need to hear the glad and golden song of the angels:

A Saviour is born to you who will be for all the people; he is Christ the Lord.

The coming Messiah will,  “arise and shepherd his flock in the strength and majesty of the Lord.” (Micah 5:4)

And the coming of a shepherd is also a glorious command to us to rest. It is not the sheep but the shepherd who defends the flock, fights for the flock, leads the flock in the best places to go, meets the needs of the flock. The Good Shepherd acts on behalf of his flock, so that the flock can rest.

Yes, the burden of life feels utterly overwhelming- for the suffering and for the striving.

But the angel’s song is for those who cannot stay above the waves, for those whose arms are weary from the struggle, for those whose strength is spent, for those who know that perfection is entirely unattainable and who need to be able to rest beside the weary road.

The angels sing of the birth of a Saviour who is coming to lift the burden of his people, a Saviour who will carry it all the way to the cross.

Christ the Lord said: “Come to me all you who are weak and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Run, John, run! The law demands
and gives me neither feet nor hands.
Far better news the gospel brings,
It bids us fly and give us wings.
(Attributed to John Bunyan)

1 comment:

  1. Just catching up on these and feeling so encouraged by your reflections. I agree with whoever said they should be turned into a book. Beautifully written and so heartwarming- thanks friend. H xxx


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